Sweden 0 - 0 Republic of Ireland: Irish hold firm

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THE Republic of Ireland maintained their fine away record under Giovanni Trapattoni to keep their World Cup dream alive.

The Irish tired after a superb opening 20 minutes but held firm in a tight Group C encounter at Stockholm’s enclosed Friends Arena to claim a valuable point.

Trapattoni’s position has been under scrutiny since last summer’s poor showing at Euro 2012 but the Irish have still not lost a qualifier away from home under his stewardship.

Sweden had the better chances with David Forde, making his first competitive start, twice saving well in the first half and again in the dying moments to preserve the stalemate.

Ireland dealt well with the threat of Sweden’s star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and, although Austria overtook them with a convincing win over the Faroe Islands, they will be confident ahead of next Tuesday’s game against them in Dublin.

Temperatures in the Swedish capital had plummeted to minus seven degrees by kick-off but it did not matter as the retractable roof was closed. The pitch, covered by an ice rink for a bandy match last weekend, also held up well despite initial fears.

Ireland made a positive start and captain Robbie Keane, playing behind strike partner Shane Long, got into a good position but Jon Walters was unable direct a header goalwards.

The Swedes gave warning of their quality, however, when Tobias Hysen connected with a well-directed volley, but Forde made a superb one-handed save.

Ibrahimovic came to life when he found room to shoot from a tight angle outside the box but Seamus Coleman got a foot in the way. Ibrahimovic threatened again but fluffed a header and Alexander Kacaniklic miscued follow-up attempt. Rasmus Elm almost snatched victory in the last minute but Forde produced another fine save to keep out his deflected shot.

Sweden: Isaksson, Lustig (Antonsson 46), Granqvist, Olsson, Safari, Larsson (Hamren 87), Kallstrom, Elm, Kacaniklic, Hysen (Toivonen 73), Ibrahimovic.

Republic of Ireland: Forde, Coleman, O’Shea, Clark, Wilson, Walters, Green, McCarthy, McLean (Keogh 83), Keane (Hoolahan 76), Long (Sammon 87).